The Donald Trump campaign has been using Neil Young‘s music without permission for years at this point. ‘Rockin’ in the Free World’ being a regular staple – being used to announce Trump’s candidacy back in 2015 – and his track ‘Devil’s Sidewalk’ was played at Trump’s recent rally in Tulsa.
Young has – understandably – been vocally frustrated by the unauthorised use of his music by the Trump campaign, and has pondered taking legal action. Last week, Young announced that while he originally decided not to go down the path of suing Trump, he had been reconsidering of late.
“I originally considered it, deciding not to pursue. But then President Trump ordered thugs in uniform into our streets. His idea,” explained Young. “He ordered this himself. This is all DJT. He told them to wear camouflage, use unmarked vehicles to take people away, innocent people peacefully protesting — their constitutional right as US citizens.”
Earlier this month, Young also shared a new anti-Trump protest song – a rework of his 2006 single ‘Lookin’ for a Leader’ originally aimed at George W. Bush.
Now, it appears Young is indeed taking action, suing for copyright infringement. Yesterday, the songwriter posted an official legal complaint on his Archives website, pointing out that the President does not have the license to play his music at campaign rallies. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the suit has been filed in Federal Court.
“This complaint is not intended to disrespect the rights of opinions of American citizens, who are free to support the candidate of their choosing,” the suit begins. It continues to say that Young, however, “in good conscience cannot allow his music to be used as a ‘theme song’ for a divisive, un-American campaign of ignorance and hate.”
“The Campaign has wilfully ignored Plaintiff’s telling it not to play the songs and wilfully proceeded to play the songs despite a lack of license,” it continues.
“The Campaign does not now have, and did not at the time of the Tulsa rally, have a license or Plaintiff’s permission to play the two Songs at any public political event.”
Young is seeking “statutory damages in the maximum amount allowed for wilful copyright infringement.”
The Trump campaign is yet to formally respond.
Of course, Young is far from the only musician who has spoken out after the unauthorised use of their music by the Trump administration. Linkin Park and The Rolling Stones are among the artists who’ve issued statements condemning the campaign’s actions in recent months.